Proceedings of the 2nd Annual Qualitative Methods Conference: "The Body Politic"
3 & 4 September 1996, Johannesburg, South Africa

Part 6


Subtitle: Vile Retentions

Moshekwa Langa

This paper suggests itself as one that will be dealing with, among other things, the body - locating some of the material within the paradigm of performance and artifice as authentic experiences of reality. Perhaps also symbolic actions (of course, symbolic actions). Implication: Naturalization. Clinical Cynicism. Claimed Atrociousness.

Sometimes they are infernal. Only sometimes. What I am mentioning here are The Halcyon Days. I like to imagine that they were nice (that they are nice). Yes, very nice. But that is just it [This is it].

No. Not quite so. They were glorious. [They are glorious]. I live them everyday [a very particular conception of the halcyon days]. I live through some of them everyday, or, rather on some days only. I am just expressing these sentiments, these sentiments only.

I would like to, and, I do, I introduce myself, or rather something of myself, and, also some self of me. To you. Please note that here I have mentioned sentiments. I was at home one day. I mean this is the most primary way. That is to say, I was at home where I live and where I worked, and also did some work. A thought occurred to me. If about this one of many. Nothing particularly exciting about this one. [I've been through all this shit before]. These things happen, I did not get upset. I tried not to dwell on that thought. And the subsequent thoughts. I did not [I do not]. However some of these thoughts, that happened to come by - that occurred - do re-occur. In. Various. Guises. Really, only variations. [No author, only participants in a setting that was set up. Unbeknown to one half of the participants]. There were only two participants. You can imagine. [Can you imagine?] That only one of the persons - one of the only two - did not know what was going on. [Ek was jonk en naif ek se]. I did not know about these things. We didn't do anything. Like. We just talked. That means that we did in fact do something. I was undressed by their language. He said that this conversation never took place between us. Somehow I knew what this meant. Its almost as thought it never did. Of course it did. We both know this. [This is not a confession]. Among others. Among the same. Among we. Among them. Among no. My constitution was reconstituted. I never spoke of it [then and for a long time]. Now when I do, it seems as though I'm being mean. Well, it can't be helped. Teachers sometimes hold what seems like absolute authority. This man also did. He did like that. When he asked me to show him: "Het was de druppel die de emmer deed overlopen". I told fellow students that we talked about life on the farm. We talked about farming methods, grains, fruit and the like. We talked about cows lactating. This was not particularly traumatic in itself. Nothing, it seems [it seems], is. No miracle has been performed yet. It seems unlikely. It is unlikely.

This was episode one. Without the mountains of my youth and life in the plains prevailing.

I had mentioned that this paper suggested itself as one dealing with performance and artifice as authentic experiences of reality. I showed slides of my work. Work made with paper, washing lines, iron grids, rooms and gardens. Also with bitumen, golden syrup, condensed milk, Jeyes Fluid, Dettol, sugar, tea, icing sugar, coffee, povidone iodine, turpentine, fishing line among other things. I think that it was very interesting to work - to make things and works and work with that material. The work itself is not located in any specificity. It [the work] has to do with various things. It is not about anything. I mean the work I showed on slides, that day, at the conference I haven't given it up. This speech is in the process of being written and written up sometimes I write if, sometimes it is written by the language. No. Matter. I leave it now. To be continued.

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2nd Annual Qualitative Methods Conference: "The Body Politic"
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